ramayana ballet, october 2012

The last scene, all of us in the semi-darkness backstage, shadows on black paint, yellow feathers and golden headpieces. “Garis, garis.” We shuffle into line, steps made small by tightly-wrapped batik, blue and white this performance. Shinta steps up beside us; Trijata, dressed in red. I don’t recognize this part of the music, but the girls move in front of me and I go, small steps small steps onto the lit stage.

Rama and Shinta reunited, finally. No dancing for me. I sit, second line of girls, facing the center. The ground still holds the sun’s warmth from hours before. Earlier, it burned beneath my bare feet; now it’s a mere comfort beneath my knees, a reminder.

Rama takes the flower from Shinta’s headpiece, flicks it in the air, turns away. Everything sparkles. The coldest thing I’ve ever seen, right at that moment. His face stern, Shinta still kneeling before him.

We don’t watch her burn, turning our faces away, slanting our gazes toward the ground. Rama doesn’t watch either, doesn’t acknowledge what she’s been driven to, what he’s driven her to.

When it’s clear she’s survived, we turn, he turns, the spotlight closes in on them, their faces, then shuts off. In the darkness, we stand, make a line, wait for the lights. In front of our line of girls, Shinta’s fingers close around Rama’s wrist, tug him into place.

photo © UKJGS

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